Over the last several months I have had the opportunity to try several taquerias in Winston-Salem. With a large and still growing Hispanic community taquerias are a bright spot on the Winston culinary map.
I have tried the follwoing taquerias:
Taco Riendo I and III, El Paisano, Guadalajara and Las Estrallas.
At Taco Riendo - (at the intersection of Old Lexington rd and Sprague st) the standout order for me has been gorditas. Forget the meal of tco bell fame and prepare for a world of difference. The gordita here is two house-made tortillas sandwiching the filling of your choice and various topings. Fillings available include carnitas, al pastor, pollo, asada, lingua, chorizo and I believe barbacoa(lamb). Toppings are tomato, lettuce,fresh cheese, sour cream and avocado. The gordita at Taco Riendo I is perfect(greaseless and well flavored. They are served with a red sauce(spicy) and green one. At three dollars it is a great lunch. Soft tacos are 3 for $5. The gordita @ Riendo III(Reynolda road in Old Town) has been slightly greasier but still a good value. Both places serve good soft tacos with the same fillings available and served with radish, diced onion, lime and cilantro.
I have not tried other items on the menu but they do offer soups and other items. The Sprague St location is busier but you may not encouter any english speaking employees. But that has never been a hindrance and all I have encountered have been extremely helpful. Unfortunately, Taco Riendo III has been empty every time I have been. The staff has been very helpful in guiding me through the menu.
El Paisano - Located @ Waughtown and Cole Road. I will say without a doubt they are the best taqueria in town. The have a slightly broader range of fillings than Reindo that include cabeza(meat from the cow head) and buche. Their star offering are sopes. You can see them making sopes and tortillas at the grill behind the register. The sopes are topped with refried beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese and sour cream along with the meet of your choice. The sopes are made with masa and about the same diameter as a tortilla. It is a lot thicker(maybe 1/4 in thick and has a rim that hold in the toppings that is maybe 1/2 in thick. The thickness totally changes the taste even if you have the same fillings and toppings in the great soft tacos they offer. Much more earthy corn flavor especially in conjunction with the beans. They also have soups and totras(mexican sandwiches on bread). The bread for a torta is fairly soft very rich and just right for soaking up the juices from the meat. In addtion to the sopes toppings they add mayonnaise and cheese.
The tortas are also available with milanesa(breaded beef) and one or two other items.
Sopes are 3 for $5(2 is a good meal), Tacos are 4 for $5 and you can mix and match. Tortas are $4.50 each.
Guadalajara - Peters Creek pkwy in the old Shuckers bldg. Its location, where many a restaurant has died, should have been my first cue. The tacos were average and the gordita was down right horrible. The gorditas were more like a croquette or empanada. In this case a leaden potato croquette with just a little meat. maybe this is an authentic gordita for a certain area of Mexico but they were still horrid. Their soft tacos were fair. The rest of the menu is the standard Americanized Mexican fare The only good note is that they serve beer and margaritas but we have Monterrey for that.
Las Estrellas - Silas Creek Pkwy. The menu @ Las Estrellas is largely the same as at many other Americanized Mexican places. But they do throw in a few Taqueria items like sopes. I only tried the sopes here which were good but not great like Paisano. This restaurants claim to fame is that unlike other Americ/Mex places they have no frezer so everything is fresh. The also serve beer and liquor.
Overall, Paisano and the Riendos(I have no idea where Riendo II is) have the best food. If they served beer it they be a great Friday hangout place. As it stands they serve agua frescas(orchata, tamarindo etc) and mexican sodas.
One place that was open for only a few weeks but looks like it is about to reopen is the Taqueria Don Y Eryck . There barbacoa soft tacos were great. Served with radish, onions and cilantro and a very thin spicy red salsa(addictive). I closed about 6 wks after opening. I looks like it will reopen under a new name and owner(I think the new onwer runs a taco truck), but hopefully the same cook. They even had a breakfast menu mainly various iterations of eggs
Anybody else with any other taqueria recs or just good places to eat in Winston. I am sure there are lots of fellow chowhounds in the twin city so lets hear from you